Disclosure: This post was sponsored by AeroGarden and Kitchen PLAY! Though I was compensated for this post and received a free AeroGarden for participating in this campaign, my thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.

Kick up plain Jane shortbread with this brown butter basil twist!

brown butter basil shortbread from Eats Well With Others

In the cookie alphabet, shortbread is kind of like A, B, and C.

Except it’s S. But also A, B, and C. Really. Hear me out.

Butter, flour, sugar, salt.

All the basics, in one crunchy sweet salty, so-easy-to-throw-together cookie.


So of course I had to go and overcomplicate the most undercomplicated cookie on the cookie tray.

But when you have a basil forest growing in your apartment and brown butter dreams growing in your heart, you gotta do what you gotta do.


Don’t think I don’t see you checking out my sprout babies up there.

(That’s the pet name that The.Boy and I gave to them. We’re practicing cooing and ooing and aahing for when we have real babies. Well. At least one of us is. The other is rejecting the suggestion of us ever having real babies. I’ll let you guess which is which.)

Aren’t they cute?!?

But how did I ever grow them in the middle of my bleak dark New York City apartment during these gray cold days of almost-winter???


AeroGarden ULTRA, TO THE RESCUE! In case you didn’t know, AeroGarden is an indoor garden system that makes growing herbs inside pretty much foolproof. All you have to do is turn on your AeroGarden, fill it with water and the provided nutrients, insert the pods from your seed kit, and within days you’ll have sprout babies of your own!! The AeroGarden also keeps track of how many days it’s been since you last added nutrients to the plants, and will remind you when you need to add more, as well as when your plants are in need of some hydration. It takes all the guesswork out of gardening.

Luckily, AeroGrow, maker of AeroGarden, will be running its ‘12 Days of Deals’ for the holidays with discounts and special bundles for the season!! Plus, you can get up to 20% on everything storewide when using the promo code ‘Holiday20’ in the shopping cart at checkout. WIN.


Take it from someone who has the blackest of black thumbs. This thing is magical.

Or at least, having your own private stash of fresh basil in the middle of these wintry days is magical. There is no other flavor that brightens up my day more, which is why I love having a bit of it at every meal, including dessert! I’ve infused basil into my desserts before with this Thai basil ice cream and these chocolate cupcakes with basil buttercream. But this shortbread takes it to a whole new level. It’s nutty and buttery with a hint of bright basil flavor.

And it’s absolutely just as easy as its plain Jane vanilla shortbread counterpart. But it makes for a much more exciting bite.


One year ago…Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Pomegranate Syrup

Two years ago…Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes with Almonds, Raisins and Capers, Chard, White Bean and Sweet Potato Gratin, Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

Three years ago…Beef and Beer Chili, Grasshopper Bars

Four years ago…Lazy Chile Rellenos and Breakfast Potatoes, Classic Italian Lasagna

Brown Butter Basil Shortbread
Classic shortbread gets kicked up a notch with this brown butter basil twist!
Yield: 16 cookies
  • 1 cup + 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • ¾ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  1. Grease a 10-inch tart pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Put the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring frequently, and cook until the butter is an amber/brown color and smells nutty. Remove immediately from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl. Allow to cool a bit.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown butter, basil, sugar and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour until totally incorporated. Pat the dough into the prepared pan and let chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit of sugar before baking to ensure that it browns evenly. Poke holes all over the dough with a fork, making sure the holes go all the way through to the bottom of the pan. This will ensure that the shortbread doesn't spread and rise while baking! You really want it to be a compact buttery crunchy cookie.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately cut into wedges. Serve either plain with a steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate for dunking, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, or with a dash of whipped cream!
An Eats Well With Others Original
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cookie


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77 Responses to Brown Butter Basil Shortbread

  1. Monica says:

    That aerogarden is so interesting and this shortbread is so creative! I adore basil but rarely had it in dessert…I bet it tastes awesome. I know that it sure looks beautiful.

  2. Tina says:

    Hello and merry Christmas! It’s been ages since we “chatted” but I follow your site online. Just wanted to pop by and say hello, tell you your basil looks amazing and I want a piece of that shortbread. No..seriously 🙂 I want some shortbread.

    Hope you are well,
    Tina in Florida

  3. I love the sound of this shortbread – herbs in shortbread are so good. I make rosemary shortbread Christmas tree cookies each year, but i never thought of incorporating basil before — great idea!

  4. I think I need this garden in my life. I had basil, for about ten seconds before I killed it. But my dream is a huge herb garden so I can just, you know, casually grab some rosemary while wafting through the kitchen in some sort of cute apron while roasting a chicken. Too much? Either way, this shortbread would make my list! I adore shortbread and this version looks amazing!

  5. That is the most ridiculous machine but I’m jealous and I want it. And shortbread is my favourite cookie. Can’t go wrong with an excessive amount of butter!

  6. I have an old, old, OLD Aerogarden. Like pre-college years old. It still works pretty amazingly, but it doesn’t look quite as fancy (or tell me how many days it’s been since anything… there’s just an indicator light). I haven’t used it in a while, but I love growing tomatoes in it

  7. Ooooh, I would love to have fresh basil in my house all winter! How awesome is that.
    This shortbread looks fantastic! Brown butter for the win every time.

  8. Simply Life says:

    this is such a great idea to spruce-up shortbread!

  9. We tend to grow a lot of plants here and only do herbs outdoors in the summer. But this looks like one fabulous device. Totally bookmarking this shortbread too!

  10. Lynn says:

    It looks really good. I make plain Jane shortbread every year for Christmas – I might throw in a batch of this to try it.

    BTW – my post this morning posted before I was ready. I couldn’t believe it when I pulled it up and it had posted – I thought it saved to draft. Thank you for commenting on it anyway! You got the idea – Christmas / holiday decorations. 🙂

  11. This is an incredible product, I totally want one now. I live high up on the 30th floor and I can’t exactly put a plant in my window sill because, well, I don’t have a window sill!

  12. mimi says:

    I’m glad you have had good luck with your aerogarden. I tried for a few years but alwayts got spider mites. So I gave up. But how nice to have fresh basil this time of year. Beautiful shortbread.

  13. SHORTBREAD!!! Yes, this is one of my favorites…maybe because it’s so buttery [and brown butter…omg]

  14. This is a new and very interesting combo for the shortbread. They look very intriguing!

  15. shortbread looks buttery rich and absolutely tempting us to munch on them now,thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe 🙂

  16. Those are some pretty sprouts! 😉 lovely to have fresh basil at your fingertips in December. I’d go for this dolled up shortbread any day.

  17. SallyBR says:

    Cool twist on a shortbread, love this!

    I heard of Aerogarden, but to be honest I don’t see where I would put this baby, and we have so much space outside, I feel bad for even thinking about a gadget like this….

    but of course, your basil babies are gorgeous…

    are you going to have bets on your blog as to when you’ll have a little Baby Boy or Baby Girl to play with the Baby Basil?

  18. Margarita says:

    I manage to kill every single plant I have. My friend, Roslyn, always gave me planters of herbs back in Washington and they would thrive for a good 3-5 weeks and then they slowly wither and die. I don’t know what I do wrong. I put them under the sun, water them, talk to them, use them, snip off dead branches, you name it. Still, they die. This looks like a very handy device especially during these cold dreary months. And the shortbread looks perfect!

  19. sandra says:

    Very cool – love having my own plants to pick from whenever I want – so liberating! And so true about shortbread – the easiest peasiest cookie. Pure simplicity.

  20. Meg says:

    What a unique idea, adding basil to shortbread! I love it! (And shortbread.)

    The AeroGarden is an awesome idea! My husband keeps trying to grow herbs and chiles in a narrow stretch of window in our apartment, so methinks this could make a great gift . . .

  21. Seriously, YUM! I love the flavors you got going on here! Soooooo good! I just made shortbread cookies myself and I think I have now mastered them- next is to put my spin on them!

  22. Pam says:

    I am so jealous! That AeroGarden is AWESOME! So is this beautiful shortbread. I would never have thought to add basil and browned butter. You rock!

  23. Major jelly of basil! I really need to get one of this aerogardens! And this shortbread, brilliant!

  24. How fun to be able to grow herbs indoors – fun idea using basil in a sweet shortbread recipe Joanne!

  25. I love herbs in short bread. This sounds fantastic!

  26. Tahnycooks says:

    Talk about making a traditional shortbread very interesting!! Loving this recipe, Joanne!

    Great Job on your garden too!

  27. I have a couple Aerogardens and they work great, I say try growing cherry tomatoes and jalapenos too! Congrats on this lovely basil.

  28. Oh, perfection! Shortbread may just be my favorite cookie of all time. Now, you’ve gone and added two of my other favorite things…brown butter (swoon) and basil (what!). I will take exactly 2 wedges, please. Pretty please?

  29. I was trying to figure out where you were getting basil this time of year. That makes sense though if you are growing it yourself! Great idea, herbs in dessert can be delicious!

  30. Kate says:

    I am so jealous of your basil. Basil season is obviously over here, since I couldn’t find any this weekend.

  31. sippitysup says:

    You may have (delightfully) overcomplicated a cookie, but you’ve under complicated growing herbs inside! GREG

  32. Shannon says:

    i want these on my cookie tray!!!!!!!!!! love what you did here.

  33. Eileen says:

    Ooh, basil in a shortbread sounds super interesting! I bet this would be pretty amazing alongside a big bowl of hot tomato soup.

  34. debbie says:

    Never heard of aerogarden but what a great idea! There is something about that sugar on top of the shortbread that make it irresistible!!!

  35. Wow, that aerogarden is awesome!!! I totally want one. And adding herbs to shorbread is one of my favorite flavors. These sound delish 🙂

  36. I feel like even with that fancy growing system, I would kill the basil. Even so, this shortbread looks magical.

  37. Brown butter shortbread must be perfection *–* And the basil addition is genius, oh how I wish my plants were still alive :–(

  38. Bea says:

    Oh, what beautiful herb babies…so cute they look like they brighten any any cold winter day 🙂 The shortbread sounds fantastic 🙂

  39. Megan says:

    Your sprout babies are adorable! And I so want to try this shortbread!

  40. I AM SO JEALOUS of your lil garden!!!

    and I adore this shortbread, mmm brown butter

  41. danielle says:

    ooh I so need one of those! I have a black tumb too :/

  42. this sounds delicious! mmmm basil! mmm butter 🙂

  43. This shortbread is gorgeous. I love shorbread and the sound of a savory one is awesome!

  44. Oh man, I need to get one of those AeroGarden things! Our basil is officially dead for the year :/

  45. I love the savory component in this, very cool!

  46. Hotly Spiced says:

    They all say they don’t want babies but they all come around. I love how you’re able to be a gardener within your own apartment. I bake shortbread every Christmas. I’ve never tried it with basil – looks great xx

  47. Jessie says:

    We have an Aerogarden and I love love LOVE it for herbs in the winter! We’re going to start it after the holidays and I’m definitely making this basil shortbread – yum! Looking forward to having some “sprout babies” of our own 😉

  48. I’ve always been curious about these aero gardens. I grow all my veggies outside but it seems like a good way to grow basil all year round. Especially if you can make these delicious shortbread cookies with it!

  49. Hmmm, glad you talked about those aero gardens. I’ve always been curious and interested since we have 7 month winters here. Great great complication of shortbread. Love the flavors very much.

  50. Reeni says:

    So jealous of your garden system! And of this wonderful savory shortbread! This would make a nice addition to holiday brunch.

  51. I have a stash of these in my cupboard still! I love the idea of the aero garden 🙂

  52. I love love love herbs in desserts- especially shortbread. This sounds so good!

  53. Ooooh I wish I had an aerogarden now. Basil is my favorite herb! Last year I got my own basil plant. It died in a matter of days. .. I still cry about it. Anyway, I love the use of basil in this shortbread!

  54. Kate says:

    Well, that’s a really cool contraption! Love the idea of brown basil shortbread.

  55. If I lived in New York, I would find you and your shortbread.

  56. I recently discovered baking with basil and I’m loving it! This shortbread sounds delish, especially with brown butter. Very creative! Have a great week Joanne. 🙂

  57. This is such a creative twist on shortbread. It appeals to me way more than the plain type!

  58. ramblingtart says:

    I was wondering how on earth you had basil in NYC in December. 🙂 What a clever idea! 🙂

  59. Johanna GGG says:

    I want a basil forest in my house and your basil shortbread – sounds amazing and would make such a crazy gift (though you would have to pick your recipient carefully – not everyone is into interesting flavours I have found)

  60. If you can grow basil in NYC. In the winter. In your apt. Anything is possible. He’ll change his mind about the babies!

  61. Teffy says:

    Now, as much as I love anything with brown butter, I have to admit I am so so fascinated by that AeroGarden!
    So so cool! It’s now cold in London and I want to plant my herbs.. this is perfect!

    {Teffy’s Perks Blog} X

  62. I’m so intrigued by this shortbread! And by intrigued, I mean I want to eat the entire batch right now for second breakfast. 😉

  63. Erika says:

    Wait, this sounds amazing. I want to grow my own basil! Have you been to Angelica Kitchen? I want to try making one of their sandwiches that calls for this basil pesto and basil at the stores is so expensive right now!! Going to check out that Aero stuff. I definitely need the guesswork taken out of gardening for me–sounds perfect!

  64. I love shortbread and basil but never thought to combine the 2 into 1 fab goodie! Awesome idea. 🙂

  65. I so need an AeroGarden! Anything to make the days a little brighter this winter! Love the idea of putting basil in shortbread too!

  66. this sounds really good, would love to try this recipe. Good luck with your little herb garden!

  67. this looks soooooo good. i love the shortbread, totally looks like a cookie pie and that basil.. yum!

  68. Kristi says:

    Brown butter is something I have never tried making. I know that people say it’s one of those flavors you’ll love, but I always worry that I will burn the butter instead of browning it.

  69. OMG, I need that. Although, might take me a bit to justify the cost of it. But I’ve had multiple failed attempts of growing herbs on my apartment windowsill. Every time, a small part of me cries when they die, ha!

    This shortbread looks great Joanne!

  70. The combination for this shortbread is not something I would have thought of, sounds yummy!

  71. Rika says:

    AeroGarden looks like a cool appliance to work with, what an awesome indoor garden system! I need to have this in my life since winter is killing my herbs!

  72. Love this twist on shortbread! These gardens are so cute – too bad my cat would devour the plants before they made it to the kitchen 😉

  73. […] there’s a gift I didn’t buy, a basil plant I haven’t decorated with ornaments, a cookie I haven’t eaten (impossible. shamefully […]

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